Benefits of Colonoscopy Less than Expected, Study Finds

A surprise new study out of northern Europe suggests that having a colonoscopy, which is regarded as the gold standard in cancer screening, may not be as beneficial as we previously believed.

Researchers compared the outcomes of the colonoscopy participants to a group of individuals who did not obtain the cancer screening after a 10-year follow-up study. According to findings reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, the former group’s probability of developing colon cancer was just 18% reduced, and the treatment had little impact on colon cancer fatalities.

Colon cancer — the second largest cause of cancer in the U.S. and the third in the globe — is often detected in persons over age 50.

During a colonoscopy, doctors insert a small camera through your anus to inspect your large intestine and rectum (AKA your colon) (AKA your colon).

“According to Michael Bretthauer, MD, the study’s lead author and a gastroenterologist at the University of Oslo Department of Medicine in Norway, “the absolute risks of colorectal cancer and, more importantly, of death from colorectal cancer were lower than those in previous screening trials and lower than what we anticipated when the trial was planned.”

Now is not the time to start jumping with joy if you detest colonoscopies. The study was not without faults.

About 28,000 participants in a lengthy, healthy Northern European study were asked to receive a colonoscopy by researchers. 42% of those who were eligible for it actually received it.

According to William Dahut, MD, chief scientific officer at the American Cancer Society, “It’s difficult to assess the efficacy of a screening test when the majority of participants in the research didn’t get it done.”

However, compared to study participants who were not tested, those who underwent a colonoscopy had a 31% lower risk of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of cancer-related mortality. This outcome highlights the importance of ongoing screening.

The best prevention strategy, according to Karen Knudsen, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society, is still getting a colon cancer screening.

According to Knudsen, the American Cancer Society advises anyone starting at age 45 to get screened for colorectal cancer, including with a colonoscopy. “There is no justification for changing course. A regular component of optimal health should be recommended cancer tests.

For additional details about colon cancer screening, go here.

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